What are three key ingredients for success at Parkland College for Latino students?
The students themselves would probably tell you that: 1) family/friend support, 2) affordability, and 3) information is the trio to beat.
I recently sat down with members of Club Latino, one of the longest-running and most active student clubs at Parkland, for a Q&A session. These students come from various cities (Rantoul, Arcola, Tuscola, Decatur, and C-U) and are pursuing a wide range of majors (music therapy and neurology, psychology, computer science, criminal justice, surgical technology, Spanish, and sociology). Most of the Club Latino students work 30-40 hours a week as well as take classes, attend Club Latino meetings (free pizza!), and do volunteer/service work with the club.
As we chatted about their Parkland experiences and what has kept them motivated to learn, they also shared with me what they would like future Parkland students of Latino heritage to understand about college before they begin their journeys here.
- My mom. She is so encouraging.
- Support for our families; we don’t want to let them down.
- We are hard workers—it’s in our blood.
- We need a better future for ourselves.
- I have goals—I want to achieve them.
- I am a nursing major, and I’m getting closer to my goal of helping people.
- It has not been easy. There are days I dedicate to school and days I dedicate to work.
- I consider my Club Latino time my hangout time.
- I worked with my mom in a factory for two years. I saw how tired she was after working 60-hour weeks, and I knew I didn’t want to do that forever.
- Parkland’s tuition is more affordable than other schools, and it’s closer to home.
- Parkland feels safe to me. The environment is friendly and I don’t ever feel fear. I feel like it’s my home.
- It’s a great place to start… a stepping stone.
- I still don’t know what I want to do, but I will figure it out at Parkland.
- How important is it to be involved in college? 101% important. Students struggle with work and school, but being involved helps you realize how much more college has to offer and how worthwhile it is.
- You’re also learning leadership skills, teamwork skills, accounting, planning. When you experience other things, you start to have a broader perspective.
- I’ve met a lot of new people from new areas and made new friends.
- It makes you more responsible because you see other people being responsible.
- I never had much Latino culture growing up, so being in Club Latino connects me to my heritage.
- We try to motivate younger Latinos to set goals and go to college. We do outreach to high schools.
- Applying to college is not as hard as you think. When I first came to Parkland, I talked to Financial Aid and figured out how to pay for college. It seems like a lot of steps, but once you’re in, the only struggle is then getting through classes. Once you’re here, there are a lot of people to help you out.
- Get started early for fall. Don’t wait. Fill out the FAFSA and use last year’s information. You want to be one of the first people to apply. You have to be persistent.
- I think it’s important to find that support system before you come, and then once you’re here, find it here.
- You don’t have to know what to major in before you come to school. The general requirements apply to a lot of majors, so none of it is wasted time.
Thanks to Club Latino members who shared their meeting time with me: Kellyn, Jesus, Bree, Karina, Yulibeth, Chaz, Joey, Jennifer, and Lisette.
[Hilary Valentine is the marketing analyst for Parkland’s Marketing and Public Relations department.]